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Posted: 2/28/2002 9:46:44 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/28/2002 9:48:34 AM EDT by ArmdLbrl]
Big embarrasment for ol Fidel:
Cuba Seals Off Mexican Embassy; Asylum-Seekers Inside By Andrew Cawthorne Reuters HAVANA (Feb. 28) - Cuba on Thursday threw a huge security cordon around the Mexican Embassy in Havana, where 21 asylum-seekers spent the night after they crashed a bus into the compound, sparking violence and chaos in the nearby streets. Roads around the building were blocked, while groups of police, plainclothes agents and pro-government Rapid Response Brigades stood by to prevent further incidents at the diplomatic mission in the city's posh Miramar district. President Fidel Castro's government blamed the break-in on a rumor that Mexico was opening its doors to Cuban asylum-seekers, saying an anti-communist radio station in Florida, Radio Marti, had broadcast ''the false and evil'' news into the Caribbean island eight times during the day. The case raised memories of a mass invasion of the Peruvian Embassy in Havana -- also sparked by a bus break-in which killed a Cuban guard -- by thousands of asylum-seekers in 1980. That prompted Castro to temporarily ease Cuba's strict limitations on emigration, leading to a famous exodus of some 125,000 refugees from the port of Mariel to the United States. The No. 2 at the Mexican Embassy, Andres Ordonez, told Reuters that 21 young Cubans remained in the compound. ''They are all men. There are 21 of them, all young. ... The situation is calm,'' he said. Most entered the embassy in the bus, but a few apparently also gained entry on foot, other diplomatic sources said. Ordonez said the Cubans had been given food and received medical checks overnight, but he would not comment on their likely fate. Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda was due to address the incident later on Thursday, he said. Meanwhile, a few Cubans continued arriving at the scene, believing they could gain Mexican entry visas, but were turned away by police. ''I want to get out. I've got a lot of family abroad,'' said 52-year-old Margartia Martiano Gonzalez. SECURITY TIGHTENED Other embassies in Cuba tightened security. After the break-in on Wednesday night, some of the bus passengers emerged on the embassy roof, chanting anti-Castro slogans like ''Down with Fidel!'' and threatening to throw themselves off if the police moved in, witnesses said. The trouble began when a blue-and-white Mercedes Benz bus careened up the street and smashed through the gate before grinding to a halt within the diplomatic compound. Earlier, a noisy crowd of several hundred mainly young Cubans gathered outside the embassy, which was protected by police and plainclothes security agents. Police blocked youths trying to run in behind the bus, chasing, beating and detaining people in the street, and attacking two Reuters journalists with batons in chaotic scenes after the incident at about 10 p.m. (0300 GMT).
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Link Posted: 2/28/2002 9:47:56 AM EDT
A local human rights' group, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said dozens of arrests were made and denounced what it called ''many acts of police brutality.'' Soon after midnight, Castro turned up at the scene, staying for about 20 minutes in the vicinity of the residence, and apparently trying to calm the atmosphere. ''Tomorrow we must get up early, there's work to be done,'' he told some members of the crowd. By the time Castro was there, the crowd of asylum-seekers had been dispersed and replaced by truckloads of government supporters, many carrying sticks and pipes. ''Fidel! Fidel!'' they chanted. FATE OF 21 UNCLEAR A Cuban communique gave no indication of what might happen to the 21 inside, but condemned the occupants of the bus as ''anti-social and lumpen elements.'' One of those who entered the embassy in the was carried out later on a stretcher with injuries apparently caused in the crash. He told a Mexican reporter that he had been kidnapped by the asylum-seekers. Throughout Wednesday afternoon, Cubans arrived at the embassy in the hope of entering due to an over-literal interpretation of comments by Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda earlier this week that ''The doors of the Mexican Embassy in Havana are open to all Cuban citizens.'' Havana said Radio Marti, a U.S.-funded mouthpiece for anti-Castro Cuban American exiles, ''cynically manipulated'' that into ''an open call to occupy the Mexican Embassy in Cuba.'' Young Cubans on the street interviewed by Reuters before the bus break-in spoke with anger and desperation. ''We just want to get out! Let us out! We'll go anywhere. We've got nothing here,'' shouted one young man, who identified himself only as Julio. Reuters cameraman Alfredo Tedeschi was beaten to the floor by police, and had his camera stolen, while Reuters correspondent Andrew Cawthorne was also beaten on the arm and back. They were the only journalists to witness the bus crash. After the Mariel exodus in 1980, and during Cuba's economic hard-times of the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were several other incidents of people trying to force their way into diplomatic buildings. In the last major case, a group of 124 Cuban asylum- seekers occupied the residence of the Belgian ambassador in Havana in May of 1994 but left voluntarily a month later. Reut10:53 02-28-02
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Link Posted: 2/28/2002 3:56:21 PM EDT
Mexico, Schmexico. They'll probably end up here! Castro will take this as another cue and export all of his dissidents, criminals and other burdens on society, once again :)
Link Posted: 2/28/2002 7:58:13 PM EDT
They said they won't leave until Cuba gets Elian back. Oh wait, he's where? Oh shit..news travels slow in Cuba.
Link Posted: 2/28/2002 8:29:41 PM EDT
News doesn't travel at all unless it is put out by the granma and approved by the communist government. What pisses me off is when CNN quotes the Granma (Communist News) as if it was God's own words. They did this all the time during the Elián crisis. This just goes to show hoe shitty the situation must be. People are always saying how evil the Cubans are for seekign Freedom. I wonder what they would do in the same situation. It take a pretty bad situation to consider immigrating to Mexico.
Link Posted: 2/28/2002 8:31:00 PM EDT
I can't help but say "Don't we have a - who really gives a shit file?"
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